In the early 60s, my parents were introduced to Arabian horses. They developed an immediate and deep fascination with these incredible animals. My parents were very driven, and when they started something, they made a 100 percent commitment. They began to breed Arabian horses, which meant as a family, we were traveling all over the state to different horse shows, and even across the country. Later in their lives as breeders, my parents helped form the Ocala Arabian Horse Association .
Horse shows are similar to kennel shows, in that you are showing off the pristine beauty of the animal. The shows can be quite extravagant, like the Western Saddle, where the horse and rider complete a pattern that incorporates elements of both reining and trail classes. Horses are evaluated on the quality of gaits, lead changes at the lope, response to the rider, manners and disposition. Some Arabian horse show events match up with other events like Steeplechase. They are often attended by the very wealthy. I can remember seeing George Steinbrenner, once the owner and manager of the New York Yankees, next door at an event.
There is a behind-the-scenes to all of the extravagancy of horse shows too, and that’s where my role was. As a teenager, I shoveled the stalls, taught the horses to canter and walk, and grooming them for shows. It was hard work and long hours, but the discipline carried with me into my professional life.
My mother was from Wauchula, Florida and my father was from Wildwood. My father graduated Monteverde Academy and went straight to law school. He and I worked at our law firm together for many years. Well into their 80s, my parents were still waking at 6:00 a.m. to clean stalls and care for the horses. Then, my father would come to the office. They spent 30 years doing something they truly loved. It enriched their lives and I’m sure contributed to how long they lived. They finally retired at the age of 88. The lesson is to find what you love and do it. It makes the work more of a calling and less of a job.